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asbarez: Soprano Arpine Pehlivanian Passes Away

On March 16, Diasporan soprano Arpine Pehlivanian, passed away after struggling a long term illness. Her dedication to the world of music and her contribution to the preservation of Armenian musical heritage are part of the legacy she leaves behind.

She performed in over 800 concerts in Europe, the United States, Canada, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Africa. Her Carnegie Hall debut was in 1974. She has performed in most of the internationally known concert halls, including the Parisian Salle Pleyel, the Salle Gaveau and the Spendiarian Opera House in Yerevan, Armenia. Her recordings include The Artistry of Arpine Pehlivanian, (1982 Arzach Productions) Armenian Sacred Music, (1986 BLM Studios) Armenian Romance Songs, (1997 Hamazkayin) and Armenian Art Songs and Live Concert.

The lyrico-coloratura soprano earned the highest honors in her field including advanced diplomas in voice and (Summa Cum Laude) from the Lebanese National Conservatory of Piano. She studied piano under the tutelage of Michel Cheskinoff, St. Petersburg, American composer Anis Fuleihan, and voice with Alvarez Boulos, London. Four years of additional study with La Scala soprano Antonia Perazzi prepared her for the Chigiana Academy in Siena, Italy, where she earned Diplomas di Merito in Opera Interpretation under Gino Bechi, Vocal Chamber music under Giorgio Favaretto and Opera Direction under Bruno Rigacci.

The National Symphony of Lebanon appointed Pehlivanian official soloist, a position she held for 18 years along with academic duties at the Lebanese Conservatory of Music where she was both a Professor of Voice and Piano and the Director of Opera Interpretation Studies. During that period she was awarded the Cilician Great Cross with the rank of Knight, the Lebanese National Said-Akl Cultural Award, and the Syrian Educational Ministry’s Gold Medal.

Pehlivanian, who consistently championed professionalism and artistic interpretation in the rendition of the Armenian Art Song, was the first singer from the Diaspora to be invited to perform leading roles with the Spendiarov Opera House in Yerevan, receiving rave reviews. Called the Ambassadress of Armenian Song, she premiered the works of many Middle Eastern and Armenian composers including the American, British, and Middle Eastern premieres of Khatchaturian’s Agh Tamar.

As concert artist and teacher, she was awarded the Bronze Halo Award (1983) from the Southern California Motion Picture Council for her contribution to the arts, and the Music Teacher’s Association of California Service Award (1987), for her contributions to the American Community. She was also a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

In 1999, the Armenian community in Los Angeles joined together to pay tribute to the Nightingale of the Armenian Diaspora for her forty years of service in both the artistic and the academic domains. At her Fortieth Jubilee the late Karekin I, Catholicos of all Armenians, bestowed on her the most coveted Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Medal of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, Armenia. Catholicos Aram I of the House of Cilicia honored the singer with the first ever Dame of Cilicia Medal, to be given to women of distinction.

Funeral services will take place on Saturday, March 20, 10:30 am, at the Holy Cross Church of Montebello.

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